• Paula Newman

Counselling for childhood abuse



This article is based upon my experiences of counselling adults who were abused as children. Types of Abuse Children who are not given adequate food, warmth, clean clothes and medical attention are suffering physical neglect. Children who are not loved, cuddled and spoken to with kindness, warmth and affection are suffering emotional neglect. Children who are not given a suitable education that meets their abilities and needs are being neglected educationally. Causing physical harm is physical abuse Emotional abuse can include bullying, offensive language, and remarks that are insulting and belittling, negatively affecting confidence and self-esteem. Child sexual abuse includes sexual contact, being exposed to pornography, and being used to take pornographic photographs.

Effects of childhood abuse Childhood abuse can cause physical and emotional harm. Children often believe that they are to blame and feel guilty and ashamed. Sleep can be affected and once asleep children may have nightmares relating to the abuse. Abused children can suffer educationally, for example by missing school due to neglect and physical symptoms. Abuse and fear of abuse can make learning and concentrating upon school work difficult. Abused children may be afraid of disclosing the abuse to a responsible adult, assuming that they will not be believed and that telling someone will make their situation worse. As a result they can feel lonely, isolated, different from their peers and burdened by the secrets that they are keeping. Counselling adults who suffered childhood abuse Adults can continue to suffer the effects of childhood abuse. Counselling offers a safe space to talk about your experiences in your own way and at your own pace. I find that person- centred counselling helps clients to feel more at ease because it is an empathic approach. I am interested in understanding what this is like for you from your point of view, without judging or blaming you for anything that has happened. With time you may find it easier to believe that it was not your fault. Just talking to a professional counsellor can be a relief. It is an opportunity to acknowledge your suffering and to let go of any secrets that you are holding, in a warm and supportive environment. During counselling sessions you might want to explore your current relationships and how abuse has affected them. Abusers are often family members and it may be helpful to consider these relationships now as an adult. Other areas which we can work with include confidence and self-esteem, depression, anger, fears, self harm, addictions, eating disorders and suicidal feelings. You may find that counselling helps you to heal and to move forward in your life

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